I am confident about the Conservation of Tropical Rain

Tropical Rain

In that time, and often referred to as the person who is often called “the creator of the most depressing site readers ” I continue to see incredible destruction occur. However, I still have hope, that Tropical Rain forests can be preserved.

But hidden behind these high rates of deforestation lie promising trends that have important implications for the rest of the world’s forests. Forests are currently more often converted as areas for producing consumption commodities for urban markets and trade, not to meet the subsistence needs of poor farmers who practice slash-and-burn agriculture. In other words, tropical deforestation has shifted from a cutting-for-poor basis to profit-driven deforestation.

This trend is very important because it has narrowed down the perpetrators of forest destruction. Two generations ago, fighting deforestation meant devising ways to forbid rural people from clearing forests for agriculture. This time has changed. The strategy is to persuade companies and governments as policymakers to adopt environmental protection against harm.

In some cases, these actions have encouraged green marketing ( green product ) and engendered corporate social responsibility programs, which have resulted in greater improvements in supply chain management and operational efficiencies than ever before. To be honest, this cannot be separated from the role of campaigners from environmental NGO groups who are active in pushing awareness to international consumers, who are the main marketing targets of producer companies.

Since 2006 the results have been extraordinary: dozens of the world’s largest buyers and sellers of soy, palm oil, livestock (cattle), and pulp and paper have made policy commitments to no longer engage in deforestation and conflict with local/indigenous communities in their production chains.

The climax was when Cargill, which has a marketing turnover of USD 135 billion in commodities per year, committed to implementing a zero deforestation policy for the entire supply chain.

If there is a danger of backsliding or fraudulent practices from commitments made, there are other tools for monitoring and verification. One way is through satellite imagery. For example, the government of Brazil and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), have a policy of requiring all companies to provide detailed geographic coordinates of the land they own. 

The integration of biannual MODIS data provided by NASA enables the platform to serve a near-real-time system for deforestation detection, similar to that implemented by Brazil to monitor the declining rate of deforestation over the past decade. Now the system has been adopted and is global.

Closer to the surface, technological capabilities are also improving. Many observers believe that currently, the world is on the verge of a drone revolution to monitor forests via small unmanned aircraft. Drones are believed to greatly improve the detection of deforestation, illegal logging, fires, and poaching that are not captured by satellites.

Observers believe drones can complement efforts that require follow-up from authorities such as those undertaken in a pilot project in Chitwan NP, Nepal.

At ground level, the use of camera traps, sensors, and mobile devices can also be used as monitoring tools. For example, RainforestConnection software, a startup developed in California, developed a smartphone-based system that “listens” for gunshots, chainsaws, and trucks. When a suspicious sound is detected, an early warning system is monitored at the local government office, which allows for quick action.

Additionally, there are also innovations in DNA analysis that allows researchers to trace wood products to their point of origin, potentially determining the legality of timber. These tools make it possible to enforce existing laws, -although of course the return “Is there the political will to act decisively?” 

Last month more than twenty countries passed the New York Declaration on Forests, in which they pledged to reduce deforestation by 2020 and end it by 2030.

There are even signs of progress in Indonesia, an environmental pariah country, which has suffered from massive forest destruction for two decades. In 2011, (former) president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono established a moratorium on logging and new permit plantations on more than 14 million hectares of previously unprotected peat and forest lands. On the other hand, this is also an effort to encourage bureaucratic reform for state forest management. These efforts have been vigorously opposed by concessionaires who are entrenched in the forestry sector, have historically been deforesting, impacted local/indigenous communities, and have historically been involved in the logging industry.

Conservation of Tropical Rain

But that paradigm may now be changing. Last month, several palm oil companies with major operations in Indonesia, Golden Agri-Resources, Cargill, and Wilmar, jointly signed a statement calling on the Indonesian government to adopt policies that support forest conservation. Asia Pulp & Paper, another Indonesian forestry company has committed to zero deforestation. These prospects signal that the private sector in Indonesia could be on the verge of a monumental shift towards appealing to the Indonesian government for pro-conservation policies.

Some smaller countries are even further ahead. Costa Rica pioneered the development of payments for ecosystem services ( payment for ecosystem services ) since the 1990s which are widely viewed worldwide as placing the country as a leader in developing business models to keep forests intact.

Last year the Constitutional Court in Indonesia, through the Constitutional Court decision 35/2012, won the indigenous people’s claim to the area under their management. This is an important decision because the government has always issued permits to large logging and plantation companies on lands that have been managed and controlled by local/customary communities for generations. After all, these lands are considered to be state forest land.

But while optimism is starting to emerge, there are also many challenges to be faced. Population growth and world consumption will be a risk that increases pressure on natural resources, including forests and their ecosystems. Real risks also arise from the shift in global consumption from west to east where consumers are not too concerned about environmental protection issues.

Failure to address climate change could leave forests badly damaged or worse than before. For example, scientists have detected large-scale onset of drought in parts of the Amazon, a frightening picture of what could lie ahead.

But I still put a handful of hope. On a trip last May to Indonesia I can illustrate why. I visited the Leuser ecosystem conservation area to check the real-time system used by Global Forest Watch. In Leuser, – the only forest in the world where rhinos, orangutans, tigers, and elephants live in the same habitat, the GFW system shows a pink dot, meaning deforestation had only occurred in the previous few months.

Joining us were a group of local NGOs using Google Maps on their cell phones which took us several miles from the scene of the incident. We found a stretch of forest that had recently been illegally cleared for oil palm plantations. The NGO partners immediately reported the case to the authorities and investigated the plantation’s supply chain linkages with the wider global network.

World Meeting on Climate Change and Challenges Post Indonesian Forest Moratorium Presidential Instruction

To follow up on this statement, through Forest Moratorium Presidential Instruction No. 10/2011, the President issued instructions for a 2-year moratorium through the practice of suspending the issuance of new HPH permits in primary natural forest and peatland areas. At the same time, cooperation with friendly countries such as the Kingdom of Norway was also made through a Letter of Intent.  This agreement binds both parties in a cooperation framework that aims to reduce emissions that occur in Indonesia through the REDD+ mechanism

It is interesting to draw a red thread at the age of the Inpres which is approaching 2 years, is the crash of the Inpres policy program effective enough to achieve the target expected by the President? In fact, will this policy answer the guarantee of forest ‘safety  after the Presidential Instruction Moratorium or even after the fall of President SBY in 2014?

Forests are Not Just a Timber Issue: A Look at Governance and Forest Area Gazettement

It is an open secret, that in the economic and political map of natural resources in Indonesia, -including the forests within them, – natural resources are a source of lenders of political power and economic interests. If in the past two-thirty decades, forests were targeted for their timber potential, today forest areas are targeted to become large-scale plantation areas and HTI, even the underground contents are targeted to extract the mining products.

Even though forest areas have long been discussed, and formulated and even regulations have been made, in reality, forest areas are often considered de-facto areas as ‘no man’s land’.  In this way, forest areas can simply be taken over and their allocation can easily be converted for various non-forestry interests.

As a result of the impact of various accumulations that have occurred so far, various forestry root causes have never been resolved to date. Tenurial conflicts that stem from territorial claims occur in a horizontal and vertical spectrum. These include conflicts between local (customary) communities who defend the existence of living space against concession permit holders; tug of war between the regional government and the central government; government and the community, coupled with weak law enforcement for perpetrators of violations in the forestry sector.

World Meeting on Climate Change and Challenges Post Indonesian Forest Moratorium Presidential Instruction

On the other hand, the weak factor in forest area tenure claims by the Ministry of Forestry has resulted in the confirmation of solid forest areas not being resolved. Forest Watch Indonesia data (2009) states that forest areas that have “met the bracelet ” and have completed an inventory of boundaries are only 12% of the total forest area claimed by the Ministry of Forestry.

This has occurred as a result of various spatial claims in several regions, including due to the unintegrated Provincial Spatial Plan (RTRWP) which collided with forest areas at the provincial level. In this case, the existence of forest areas does not stand alone but must be placed in an agrarian perspective in the realm of socio-economic and cultural studies.

Institutions: Who Manages the Forest?

Forest areas, -particularly forest areas outside Java Island-, must be realized that they are not a given subject.  Forest areas must be seen in a space of discourse that involves the public in which various slices of interest occur. In the subject of the discourse, it is necessary to support the claim that forest management must be able to give respect to the various perspectives of the people who have lived in the area. Where people see forests not only as a capitalistic economic basis but as a living space habitus that must be maintained.

Forest managers certainly cannot be placed in a technocratic realm as has been the case so far. Forest planning cannot be carried out without the certainty of a forest tenure system as an absolute requirement for the operation of a good forest governance system.

With the certainty of management subjects, the governance system can be defined to derive various components for transparency, coordination, accountability, and participation of the actors involved. In this case, of course, honesty and dialogic communicative actions, -without any hegemonistic feelings and dominance by one party, – are the key answers to obtaining a solutive public space necessity.

At the technical implementation managerial level, it is necessary to divide roles at the macro and micro levels to build forestry institutions. If at the macro level, there are the Ministry of Forestry and Provincial Regional Heads, then at the site level, a management model needs to be built. One model that can be adopted, -with various necessary modifications-, is the KPH (Forest Management Unit) system which has so far been implemented for forest management in Java.

On this basis, information, needs, and diversity at the site level can be accommodated and resolved through managerial processes. No more, forests are “leased” through a one-way process of vertical legitimacy that ends in conflicts on the ground, as has happened so far.

The President’s good intentions through the Presidential Instruction Moratorium are not enough to encourage the emergence of sustainable and just forest management. After the implementation of the Presidential Instruction, without a fundamental solution to the forest governance system, it will only lead to a return to business-as-usual behavior as it has always been in force. 

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